Port Dalhousie pier report coming to council
Submerged by the high water levels in Lake Ontario the west and east piers in Port Dalhousie await word of repair. Tuesday May 16 2017 . Bob Tymczyszyn/St. CatharinesStandard/Postmedia Network
Final detailed repair designs for the Port Dalhousie piers have been completed as scheduled, but when they’ll be put into action isn’t yet known.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada said the new pier designs by the engineering firm it hired have been received and Small Craft Harbours staff have discussed them with City of St. Catharines staff.
Department spokeswoman Rosaleen O’Mahony said Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working closely with the city on the issue and conceptual design drawings may be made public soon.
“The Department of Fisheries and Oceans understands the importance of the Port Dalhousie facility to the community and local economy,” she said in an email.
Sections of the east and west piers were closed by Fisheries and Oceans in April 2015 due to safety concerns. A study found some of the wood holding up the concrete decks had rotted away, leaving the decks unsupported.
The department presented three long-term repair options at a well-attended public meeting in May 2016. Only one of the options allowed pedestrians to walk on a deck and boats to moor as they could before the piers were closed. The estimated price tag was $33 million.
That’s the option St. Catharines council told Fisheries and Oceans it wants, based on public feedback and a city survey.
St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle said the department is undertaking the next steps with an environmental assessment and consultation with indigenous groups — mandatory stages for a federal infrastructure project. He said those steps often cause delays with projects so it’s good they’re moving forward now.
A funding announcement hasn’t yet been made.
“Yardsticks are being moved,” Bittle said. “We still don’t have an announcement yet but we’re moving forward. The minister understands it’s a priority for the city of St. Catharines and it’s something that I frequently discuss with his staff.”
Bittle and St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik will meet with the minister of Fisheries and Oceans on June 1 in Ottawa when Sendzik is in that city for a conference.
Sendzik said he wants to walk into that meeting with a strong position of city council.
He said Thursday he hasn’t seen the designs yet but a staff report will be coming to city council on May 29 with details.
That meeting will help council build its plan moving forward working with the federal government, he said. Council doesn’t know how high of a priority the project is for Fisheries and Oceans in terms of starting construction.
“Is it a priority to do this now, or a priority to do this five years from now? We don’t know what their position is,” Sendzik said.
“The report coming to council on the 29th will give us the direction that is required in order for us to move forward and work with the federal government to get these open as quickly as possible.”
Sendzik said the decision for council is, how hard are they going to push it?
“I think what we’re heard clearly from the public is this is the number a priority to St. Catharines and so we want to get the piers back open as quickly as possible. That will inform our plan moving forward.”
Fisheries and Oceans Canada said it would not discuss the detailed repair design publicly until city council has been briefed in order to avoid potential influence on any decisions.
Meanwhile, O’Mahony said repairs to the east wall beside the Port Dalhousie Yacht Club are nearing completion and the fuelling station will be operational for the upcoming boating season once high water levels recede.